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Cool 🕶️ Great Engines (automotive or otherwise)

Maister

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Slant six? The kind you could run without oil for tens of thousand of miles?
Have we ever had a 'great engines' thread before? The GM 3800 series V6 was a reliable workhorse. I had a 1990 Pontiac Bonneville that basically fell apart around the engine.
 
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mendelman

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Chevy 350 small block FTW.
The 1990s version of the GM 305ci/5.0L was a workhorse and nearly indestructible. My parent's 1992 Caprice wagon had this engine and it went 130,000 miles in 8 years with zero issues.

The GM 3800 V6 engine/drivetrain was a winner for them for like 20-25 years.

The Chrysler 4.0-liter V6 found in the late-gen minivans (like my 2008 & 2016) is also long lasting and issue free. Now, the transmissions that were coupled with them in the second to last gen were problematic at high(er) mileage.
 
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The Terminator

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Since us burbians like to reminisce about cool old cars we had in the past, or compare notes on potential new car purchases as part of our habitude d'en jaser, as per @Maister suggested in the Manual transmission car thread, I figured why not make an engines thread?

So, let's discuss GREAT ENGINES and our thoughts for best candidates and personal experiences with these motors!

My list of greats:

Volvo Redblock (B230f) - Old Swedish Reliable, non interference design and intuitive mechanicals that make ease of repair relatively straightforward compared to most other European touring cars of its day. I've owned two Volvo 240s with B230fs that were north of 300k miles without rebuild.

Honda Inline 4s, 1.5-1.8 liter D series engines found on the 1987-05 Accord, Civic, Prelude etc. There are plenty of examples of 500,000 mile Honda's still putting about! If you maintain it, it will live!

GM 3800 series (Buick) V6. A diamond in the rough when GM was mostly making crap, found on Lesabres, Century's, Pontiac Bonnevilles, Olds Cutlasses etc. The bodies of these cars will rot into the ground before a 3800 dies! I especially love the supercharged variants found in mid 90s Buick Park Ave Ultra's. These are still common, only phased out in 2006, I think.

Mopar Slant 6, 198, or 225 cid. Found on 1967-76 Dodge Dart, Duster, Plymouth Valient, Fury and in light duty Mopar trucks of the same period and other passenger cars that escape me. Simple pushrod design paired to a 1 or 2 bbl carb, you could run these on Canola oil! It was common to see 200k + mile examples daily driven on American roads into the 1990s.

Mercedes Benz OM617: The engine that brought the idea of Diesel motoring to North America. Requires a tight maintenance schedule to avoid piston ring blowby issues as they age, but as long as you keep a Mercedes Diesel within valve adjustment and dont skimp on fluid changes, this is a 500,000 mile motor! Although non-turbo varients are painfully slow.

The American Motors Straight 6 (4.0) found in Jeep Grand Wagoneers and the XJ Cherokee. Everyone has a story about these, the type of engine that will start right up after driving through a lake.

Toyota 5sFe and similar inline 4's: Found on 1990-06 Camry especially. The 2.2 litre 5SFE is a non interference motor that can go to 500k without a rebuild with little effort beyond replacing wear items. The 1.8 Corolla engine is the same.

350 Chevrolet Small Block V8: the iconic, quintessential American workhorse. No explanation needed.

Moderator note:

moved the applicable engines posts from the manual trans thread to this thread - thanks for starting this thread TT (that's why some posts are before this post).
 
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MD Planner

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The Chrysler/AMC 4.0L straight six was a great engine. I had one in my '94 Jeep Cherokee and when I got rid of the vehicle it had 375K on it and I'd never had to do anything major on the engine itself. It was a beast.
 

Maister

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The American Motors Straight 6 (4.0) found in Jeep Grand Wagoneers and the XJ Cherokee. Everyone has a story about these, the type of engine that will start right up after driving through a lake.
I'm impressed you thought to include this one on the list. AMC I-6 series was probably the best engine they produced (up until Chrysler put the kibosh on it after acquiring Jeep). Notable for its torque and general longevity. There's a reason this series had such a long run.
 

mendelman

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I'm impressed you thought to include this one on the list. AMC I-6 series was probably the best engine they produced (up until Chrysler put the kibosh on it after acquiring Jeep).
My understanding is Chrysler kept that engine in the Cherokee (XJ) until they ditched the XJ platform in 2001. Chrysler acquired AMC (mainly for Jeep) in 1987.

In 2000, I almost bought a brand new XJ that had this engine. Being a poor-ish soon to be grad student, I bought a 1992 Subaru Loyale wagon instead (for much much less).
 
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MacheteJames

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- Mazda MZR 2.5L I-4: found in my old Mazda3. Based on the old Ford Duratec architecture that dates back to the 80s, these engines have a long stroke and relatively low (6200ish) rpm redline, but will easily run to 250,000 miles with decent maintenace. This motor was also built in 2.0 and 2.3L versions, both of which rev a little better, but with less low end torque.

- Mazda MZR DISI Turbo 2.3L I-4 - found in my current Mazdaspeed3. Co-developed by Ford and Mazda, in the mid 2000s, this engine was a first generation direct-injected turbo powerplant (fuel injected directly into cylinders, not intake valves) that served as the testbed for the subsequent line of Ford EcoBoost turbo engines that are now ubiquitous in everything Ford makes. The motor was overengineered, producing 263hp in stock form, but easily capable of making 320-330hp with minor modifications (and 400+ with an upgraded turbo). Factory connecting rods have a weak spot in the mid-rpm band that must be tuned for to avoid the dreaded Zoom Zoom Boom that turbo Mazdas were once known for.

- VW EA888 1.8T - found in our household's other car, a VW Golf Sportwagen. Little brother of the EA888 2.0T found in the Golf GTI, it's a very smooth, refined, and torquey powerplant with typical German issues at high mileage (dirty intake valves, weird expensive shit breaking).

How about great TRANSMISSIONS?

GM 700R4 4 speed automatic - GM put versions of this transmission in literally everything throughout the 80s and 90s. Seriously, 90% of their cars had one of these. It's the archetypical slushbox and a dinosaur in 2021, but surprisingly capable for its day when equipped with an updated valve body and high stall torque converter.
 

The Terminator

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I'm impressed you thought to include this one on the list. AMC I-6 series was probably the best engine they produced (up until Chrysler put the kibosh on it after acquiring Jeep). Notable for its torque and general longevity. There's a reason this series had such a long run.
I have always loved the XJ Jeeps! My neighbor had one with wood paneling (an 88, I believe) when I was around Kindergarten age, and I adored it! Allot of my automotive tastes are informed by what I thought was "neat" when I was a Kid. Often, when my parents were furniture shopping or visiting their financial advisor (or any other activity I found "boring"), my dad would take me out to the parking lot to car-spot while mom "handled business".

Funny anecdote about XJ Cherokee's. Circa. 1998 on a family trip to the Jersey shore, I spotted one parked by the Seaside Heights boardwalk that I liked, with tan interior on tan wood paneled exterior. It had chrome grill accents so It was probably a pre-95 model. Because I thought my dad knew everything at that age, I asked him "Daddy, do they still make these Jeeps? Can we get one?" His response was "Noooo sergie, its an old model!". Irony is, that the XJ remained in production until 2001! So in Summer 1998, my father could have theoretically walked into a Mopar showroom and bought a new 1998 or '99 XJ with the venerable 4.0.
 

JNA

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I had a Plymouth Duster with a Slant 6 - it made 3 round trips from NJ to Utah.
 

WSU MUP Student

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I was going to suggest the AM/Chrysler straight-6 as well but it seems like I've been beaten to the punch on that one by a bunch of posters. If I found an older Jeep XJ with the straight-6 for sale, the engine and the transmission would be the least of my concerns. How many other 25+ year old vehicles can you say that about? I had an '06 Jeep Wrangler that had basically the same 4.0 as what you could get in an '87 Cherokee. While that engine didn't have as much power or torque as what was in my next two Wranglers, I still think it was more reliable and worry-free.

The AMC 360 that they put in the bigger Grand Wagoneers and that Chrysler kept using in some of their trucks and vans once they took over was nearly as bulletproof as the 4.0. I think the 360 was in production just as long as the 4.0.

Terminator and Mendelman mentioned the GM 3800 V-6 and that's another one that comes to mind for me and another one that was manufactured for a very long time (Kaiser and AMC also have some history with this engine). I'm always surprised by the number of Pontiac Grand Prix and Bonnevilles from the late '90s or early '00s that I still see driving around. Often, the bodies are completely shot but it appears they have no issues starting right up and keeping up in traffic. I'd be more worried about a fender falling off than having one stall in front of me at an intersection.
 

Dan

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I mentioned the Chevy 350 small block and Mopar 225 Slant 6. Let's cross the Atlantic for the Terminator of engines..


That's right. You know what it is. The mighty Mercedes OM617 5 cylinder diesel. The "OM" stands for "over a million", and whether that's kilometers or miles, it's still damn impressive.



I always wanted a W123 with an OM617 as a fun (albiet slow) weekend car, but they're now starting to fetch prices approaching and over the five digit mark.
 

The Terminator

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I mentioned the Chevy 350 small block and Mopar 225 Slant 6. Let's cross the Atlantic for the Terminator of engines..


That's right. You know what it is. The mighty Mercedes OM617 5 cylinder diesel. The "OM" stands for "over a million", and whether that's kilometers or miles, it's still damn impressive.



I always wanted a W123 with an OM617 as a fun (albiet slow) weekend car, but they're now starting to fetch prices approaching and over the five digit mark.
Yessssss! I love that our fearless leader also watches Kent Bergsma, Kent is the Benz Guru and his channel is one of my CarTube heros.

I love MB Diesels almost as much as I love Volvo's and Detroit Iron. I definitely learned by trial and error with the one I briefly had (81 300D non turbo that was on its very last legs). Even with all the blowby issues, I took it from NYC to Baltimore and back with no issues beyond needing to add oil, and got 30mpg.

The ideal configuration is OM617A, the Turbodiesel. Fun fact about MB diesels made before 1986: they are COMPLETLEY analog cars, mechanical injection, vacuum controlled accessories like power windows/antenna/central locking as well as vacuum controlled ignition and shutoff. No computer whatsoever, they can survive an EMP pulse and are completely unhackable.

The OM606 4 cylinder variant found on W123 240Ds is just as solid. The OM606 and OM603 EFI Diesels that MB put in the W124 onward are also contenders, but they're just not the same.
 

estromberg

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Have we ever had a 'great engines' thread before? The GM 3800 series V6 was a reliable workhorse. I had a 1990 Pontiac Bonneville that basically fell apart around the engine.
Came here to say literally the same thing. That 3800 was great except for the plastic intake plenum.
 
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